There are two ways to say “I am” in Spanish, confusing in itself, yet the two ways, “estoy” and “yo soy,” though they have very different root words, are, one might say, a bit too close sounding for comfortable use.
Yet, since estoy and yo soy mean two very different things to Mexicans, it is important for a foreigner to understand the difference. This is not necessarily easy since you are given long, complicated grammatical explanations which are even more confusing.
Here are a couple of the simpler explanations:
- Estar indicates a “condition” which can change, like your physical condition or location. Como esta?
- And ser is used when talking about the essence of something; an unchangeable condition or an aspect that never changes, such as a place of origin, occupation, nationality, date, time or place.So, yo soy (ser) from Wisconsin but estoy (estar) in Mexico now. OR, the apple es (ser) green in color or is esta’ (estar) green as in unripe.
Got that? I have 5 flash cards defining these words with lists of when to use them and I am still not quite sure.
But today someone explained, “It’s simple really, all you really need to remember is to use ser (Yo soy) for things that are solid and permanent. Estoy is for things that are less permanent like emotions and locations.”
Understanding this can make the difference between saying:
Soy aburrido. I am boring. (solid and permanent)
Estoy aburrido. I am bored. (temporary state)
“It is ALWAYS,” they added, “Donde esta‘ and Como esta’. And nouns, ALWAYS use es (el elefante es grande.)
Now that is an explanation I can get my mind around. You?
“Ich bin ein Berliner,” anyone?